Job Search: 50 Tips From an Executive Recruiter

Here are 50 actionable job search tips that will help you write a compelling resume, develop your professional network, establish a presence on the web and target companies and job openings that fit your unique skill-set and experience.

  1. Develop a social media presence on the websites that make sense for your profession and industry. LinkedIn is the most important job search social media tool for most professionals. Job seekers who fail to develop their brand and presence in social media channels, do so at their own peril.
  2. If you go to a networking event to further your job search, have a goal to set up two coffee appointments or phone calls from the meeting. Go to the networking event with a purpose and end result in mind.
  3. How you apply for a job is a demonstration of your skill set. Do you do what you are told? Do you demonstrate good judgment? Are you fluent in latest technologies needed to submit your application? Be sure you are learning and practicing latest technologies to effectively use in your job search.
  4. Do you need to organize your job search? I highly recommend anything from Jason Alba, creator of It can help job seekers organize their job leads effectively.
  5. Expand your LinkedIn connections by inviting clients, vendors and business contacts to connect, in addition to reaching out to your friends, family, college alumni and fellow employees. You never know who your network knows that can lead you to your next opportunity.
  6. The best employer LinkedIn recommendations are from your Direct Managers. Next best recommendations are Indirect Managers, Peers and then Subordinates.
  7. Devise a target list of companies where you would like to work based on industry, geography, discipline, or benefits needed. Then identify the hiring authority or field manager that is involved with hiring in your discipline and introduce yourself to that person. Create your own opportunity and do not wait for a job posting.
  8. Shore up on certifications and necessary professional development requirements in your field. Network with fellow students in the class to leverage your knowledge and networks.
  9. Look up when conferences related to your profession are taking place and make plans to attend. Join like-minded professionals who proactively seek out the latest knowledge in your field and aim to keep themselves ahead of the learning curve.
  10. When attending professional or industry conferences, look at the speaker/attendee/sponsor list and reach out to contacts to set up meetings ahead of time. This way you have prospects you can meet before you get there and get a jump on network expansion.
  11. Join profession/industry related associations to network with other progressive individuals within your field. Companies often post job openings exclusively with professional and industry associations to attract the highest caliber candidates who are interested in lifelong learning and professional development.
  12. Help someone with their professional goals: Introduce two people that can help each other. Help your former colleague gain entry into a company he/she has been looking to gain as a client. Helping others follows the golden rule of job search networking: Give to Get.
  13. Don’t ignore the importance of the job application: employers are testing your accuracy, ability to follow instructions and veracity.
  14. Google how to do an ‘x-ray’ search to help you find target companies and contacts for your job search. This will help you devise a target list and take back control of your search.
  15. Use Google Alerts to have news on your target companies and people you follow sent to you as soon as it is posted online. Be the first to know.
  16. Establish a vanity URL on LinkedIn and ensure your handle is consistent on Twitter and Facebook to help build your career brand. Use these links on your resume and personal website to make it easy for employers to find your presence on the web.
  17. Reach out to new contacts on social media channels and at live networking events. Expand your interaction outside the circle of people you know. Basing your job search on existing contacts only is short-sighted. You need to ‘make new friends’ and consistently add new people to your contact list.
  18. Communicate with people in the medium where they congregate—online, in person, or via email -- find them and reach out to them where they are to increase your chances of a response.
  19. Use LinkedIn to develop targeted job contact lists and sales target lists. Then start reaching out directly! Most job seekers will not do this, so if you do, you will be in a smaller audience of job seekers.
  20. Use to develop a list of job search leads or sales targets to advance your agenda forward and build your target list.
  21. Google the company name where you’re interviewing with phrases like “sucks”, “downsize” and “reduction” to unearth negative info.
  22. When at a networking event, focus on making 1-3 worthwhile connections to follow-up with afterwards. Don’t just collect business cards. Network with purpose.
  23. Be sure you have a social media presence and LinkedIn profile to have recruiters find you. A successful job search comprises two parts: the activities you do to find opportunity and the activities you do to be found by hiring managers. Job seekers that do not do the latter put themselves at a serious disadvantage in their job search.
  24. Other great websites to find names to contact for your job search are Zoominfo, Hoovers, Forbes and Fortune.
  25. Keep unsolicited emails you send to new contacts under 200 words. Short, to the point and actionable emails get more responses. Long-winded, visually dense emails often do not get read or have time spent on a response.
  26. When developing your job search target company list, look at competitors, vendors, clients and support companies. Leverage your experience with others to expand your list.
  27. Make sure you ‘like’ your job search target companies on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to find real-time job and company information.
  28. Make sure your Twitter profile is complete, catchy and clear that you are looking for a job. Twitter can help you find your next job.
  29. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete to improve your chances of recruiters finding you.
  30. Be your own job recruiter! Don’t be dependent on job boards or third party recruiters, as only 25% of hires are made this way. Build a list of target companies where you want to work, and network to gain entry into a company through an employee referral, social media connection or personal contact—75% of hires are made this way.
  31. Have job search anxiety? Prospective employers can sense it when they speak to you. Spend time performing meditation and relaxation practices. It will improve your job search conversations, creating good energy for others to see in you.
  32. Learn how recruiters recruit for job applicants like you—learn how they find people. Use those tactics in your search to increase your chances of being found by those recruiters.
  33. If you are covertly conducting a job search, be sure to ask contacts out for a meal, cup of coffee or a drink to discuss what is going on in the market.
  34. Master small talk topics and skills for attending business and career networking events. Make the most of your time and effort.
  35. Spend time finding the right companies and customize your approach and application for your job search. Don’t spray your resume around and just pray someone responds. Be deliberate and strategic in your approach.
  36. Always try to find a human being to reach out to at a company for your job search. Emailing only generic department emails can be the black hole.
  37. Can’t afford a subscription to Hoovers or other contact databases? Your local library may have free access to these sites or other ones that are similar for your job search. Join a job search club to share leads, learn about different markets and gain support for your job search.
  38. Embrace your job situation. Difficult jobs, layoffs, company restructurings and challenging bosses happen to everyone. Make your situation positive! Companies want to hire positive people who can capitalize on any situation to generate results.
  39. When was the last time you asked someone from your online or career network out for coffee? Or talked to them over the phone? Make a call now to someone to whom you have not spoken with in a while.
  40. When was the last time you asked a professional colleague, “How can I help you?” – help them and when you need help, they may help you. Help out a co-worker with their career advancement or their job search. Good karma comes back in many ways.
  41. Keep track of your job search activity metrics by tracking how many conversations you have in person, via telephone and through email. People hire people, so track your ‘people’ interactions. This will help you avoid researching endlessly and only submitting to job postings. If you are not talking to people, your job search is not moving forward. Track the conversations you have with people weekly to gain results from your job search.
  42. Attending industry or profession-specific career fairs can be very helpful to see what companies are hiring, the competition you are competing against and to make new contacts. Do research to see what companies you want to visit and map out how you will move through the event.
  43. When attending holiday parties, casual occasions or personal events, always make a point of introducing yourself to new people within the group. These types of random encounters at friendly events can be excellent resources for new contacts with mutual personal connections.
  44. Have your references identified and vetted well before the interview stage. Have this list completed and spoken with as you start your job search. Finding and speaking to references after you have interviewed is too late and way to risky of a game to play. Be prepared.
  45. Do not underestimate the power of friends and family in your job search. You do not know who they know. Strategically communicate what you are looking for and be specific in outlining the types of people you would like to speak with to your personal network. You may be surprised on how your friends and family deliver.
  46. The ‘elusive’ hidden (unpublished) job market is found by outlining a list of target companies to approach, conversing with your network, expanding your contacts, and attending events to make yourself visible to the right people. And then following-up, following-up and following-up.
  47. Successful job seekers learn new job search tactics and employ them on a consistent, regular basis continuously improving the execution. Consistency of applying the most progressive tactics is the way successful job seekers find their next opportunity.
  48. How you conduct your job search tells an employer how you will conduct yourself on the job. Are you considerate, proactive, detailed, and inventive? Saying you have these characteristics and demonstrating them are two different the latter.  Be creative in your job search approach to be noticed.
  49. Once you are one year out of college, put your education at the bottom of your resume.
  50. Always have a heading depicting the job title you want under your name on your resume. Make the hiring manager reading know what job you want.

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